AT Eastertide last year we were all looking forward, after six years of war, to the victorious conclusion which was then imminent. Our mood was uric of thanksgiving for the ending of the strife, the triumph of the good cause, and the prospects a early peace, at least in the West.
This year we have at this great season of the Church's liturgical year to contemplate the fruits of the war we waged and the character of the new world which our victory has created.
It was never to be expected by any but the most superficial observers that this second great war, which divided not only nations, but peoples and classes, and which could only be ended by an orgy of destruction, spiritual, political and material, could evolve easily into an era of peace, unity and quickly returning prosperity. On the other hand, it was widely hoped that the completeness of the victory would furnish an unprecedented opportunity to the great victor Powers to start afresh, freed from many of the political anxieties and rivalries which (so the argument ran) were encountered after the incomplete and untidy ending of the war of 1914-1918. The experience of a first failure should furnish precious lessons for the second attempt conducted on the morrow of the sacrifice and death which must be the prelude to a real resurrection.
We realise to-day how hollow those hopes were. We realise that in a very real sense the war has
not ended at all. It has only changed its course and its technique. The pursuit of power and the greed for wealth continue unabated, though resorting to new variations in the use of force and ctin Ring.
'There has been no resurrection after death ; there has only been a continuation of the process of corruption which, indeed, has for many years been the true explanation of the world's history.
We persuaded ourselves that the disintegrating and corrupting pro
Icess which continued after 1918 could be attributed to the germ of Fascism, and that therefore the destruction of that Fascism personified by Hitler, at whatever cost, must restore the world to health_ We have discovered not only that Fascism persists in a new and possibly more dangerous form, but that power politics. economic wars, , international jealousies, class conflicts, continue unabated, and that the terrible cost of the struggle has left the world a veritable breeding ground for the growth of these diseases.
To the Christian the explanation of this disastrous disappointment should present no difficulty.
For us the transition from death to resurrection involves a critical
change, 'a miracle. Just as in nature itself the process of the creation of life out of matter involves a leap into a new order, so in super-nature we rise from the material plane to the spiritual. And we know that the God whose Divinity triumphed over mortality is the source whence the new life originates once matter is killed and so disposed as to be able to receive this Divine gift.
It cannot be otherwise with the life of human society. Destruction by itself, material change by itself, the development of ideas by itself, new plans and purposes by themselves, none of these can effect the resurrection that must take place if we are to rise from one ordei to another, from war to peace, fream corruption to new life.
Nor is this to be taken in a solely mystical sense. The Holy Father's constant admonitions to the nations furnish the practical prescription which would express precisely that spiritual change without which no war, no sacrifiee. no destruction can prove fruitful.
It is by no means wholly a question of Russia's atheistic Marxism nor of her political aggression. Our whole conception of a Carthaginian peace is totally at variance with the Spiritual ideals which the world to-day requires if it is to recover A Carthaginian peace is only a prolongation of war and the policies which lead to war.
War can only change to peace, can only be the preliminary to resurrection. if it is turned into the means of reconciliation.
The destruction of war has no meaning unless it is seen as the condition for a new and common reconstruction. The dreadful fruits of war in famine, homelessness, unemployment, political violence, are so much brutishness unless they are made the opportunity for charity and love at any cost to the more fortunate. The Sermon on the Mount is not advice for a Saint . it is a prescription for a sinning world.
The plain fact in Christian teaching and -n commonsense is simply that there can be no peace for the world unless the world can effect the spiritual change which is the condition of resurrection.